“A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You’ve got to kick off with a corker, to hold the attention (I started with ‘Got To Get You Off My Mind’, but then realised that she might not get any further than track one, side one if I delivered what she wanted straight away, so I buried it in the middle of side two), and then you’ve got to up it a notch, and you can’t have white music and black music together, unless the white music sounds like black music, and you can’t have two tracks by the same artist side by side, unless you’ve done the whole thing in pairs, and … oh there are loads of rules.”
― Nick Hornby, High Fidelity
The Mix Tape is one of a handful of enduring legacies of the 80s and early 90s. It is a janisary audio note to would-be lovers, coveted exes, and cohorts alike that has danger and duplicity hand-written all over it. On the one hand it can be street cred, instant cache, can’t-buy-me-cool cool, if the selections groove and rock and funk toward a central theme–sex, drugs, & rock n’ roll perhaps..? It is also Nerd Home Study course in solemn investigation and quiet consideration 101. But put one foot wrong with a bad track somewhere that kills the flow, and you’ll’ve lost that delicate elevated precipice of cool in the mind’s eye of the desiderata.
Mix Tape – An Effort of Love In Vain
This happened to me ensconced in the mid-90s college scene with a girl I already had interested in me. Her name was Jenny (of course it was) and she had perfect 19 year-old breasts and a dyed-tattooed-punk-aesthetic about her and so there I went, pushing my luck with a mixtape (mix cd actually) after dating off and on for three months. My approach was good, as we had hung out several times and listened to music together and bonded over sharing our own personal great live show experiences, so (I thought) I knew what I was doing. My lineup was solid counter-culture and a bit esoteric (there were two bands she had never heard of). I had her roller-coasting until I got cocky and put the much-overused David Bowie track, “Young Americans”, on to close the set. I was the ultimate over-confident music nerd passing it to her nonchalantly with the diffidence of the pony-tailed douchebag in Hornby’s film version of High Fidelity. It was pretty much over at that point. What did I need to prove? Why didn’t all my nerves scream STOP!? It’s purely academic at this point, but it would be interesting to see how long it would have last if Bowie hadn’t’ve fucked my life up (like he’s done so often in the past…). Sure, we had to have an actual “event” happen that we could place the blame on for why it couldn’t-wouldn’t ever work out (I think I was a few minutes late to our romantic walk on the beach at sunset date), but that was just so much diversion from the fact that our once hopeful pop love song’s melody had turned out to be a one-hit wonder.
The truth is that the mixtape is an overt act of sex, albeit a pointedly individual one, a masturbatorial act of immense self-gratification. Unfortunately one only occasionally fun for the other party. But who doesn’t masturbate? Who doesn’t self-gratify to the expense of others, their lovers, their other-brothers’-milfy-mothers? I don’t so much anymore, and definitely not to get anyone in the sack, but once in a great while, I’ll hear a song that I know ENTER NAME HERE would love and it’s on: the search for 17 songs that make me look really cool. But I have a radio show, so who needs to look cool (I’m still working on sounding cool)?
- Let the Four Winds Blow – Fats Domino
- Cult Logic – Miike Snow
- C’est pas facile d’être une fille – France Gall
- Lights & Music – Cut Copy
- Two Weeks – Grizzly Bear
- Do The Whirlwind – Architecture In Helsinki
- You Can Have It All – Yo La Tengo
- I’ll Be Your Man – The Black Keys
- Hardly Wait – PJ Harvey
- Trick Pony – Charlotte Gainsbourg
- Just What I Needed – The Cars
- The Greater Times – Electrelane
- Out of Sight – Little Bob & The Lollipops
- Make It Wit Chu – Queens of the Stone Age
- How Sweet it is to Be Loved by You – Marvin Gaye
- Honey’s Dead – The Jesus And Mary Chain